Study Puts a Price Tag on Invasive Pest Impacts in an Urban Landscape


Gypsy_moth_5383245_JGhent.jpgPicture a sizable city invaded by non-native insects. Hundreds of thousands of trees are threatened. Authorities must act to control the situation, but it’s going to cost them—a lot—say collaborating researchers, including Mark Ambrose, a North Carolina State University scientist working with the Eastern Threat Center. Using Baltimore City as a case study, the researchers examined the urban tree landscape and envisioned scenarios of gypsy moth outbreaks. Given that the majority of the more than two million trees in this city would be susceptible to this leaf-munching pest, suppression efforts, tree removal and replacement, and lost ecosystem benefits would be substantial. Costs could range between about $5.5 million to almost $64 million, according to the researchers’ estimates. This study, recently published in the journal Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, provides a framework that other cities can apply to estimate the costs associated with an outbreak of gypsy moths and other invasive pests. 

Pictured: A gypsy moth caterpillar feasts on a white oak leaf. Photo by John H. Ghent, USDA Forest Service,


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